How To Photograph Animals

by Ian McGlasham


Animals are naturally beautiful and uniquely interesting. They seem like natural subjects for photography. Their faces, while unable to smile the way humans can, are full of personality and emotion. You will always be able to tell when your cat or dog is happy, content, excited, hungry, tired, playful and a whole host of other emotions, all of which you want to remember and share throughout their lives.


You are seeing these different moments as an animal lover; as a pet owner or as an admirer of the overwhelming natural beauty of these magnificent creatures. When you take a picture of him or her you may often find that your pictures are disappointing.

What you saw and loved will not always be captured in the photograph. The pictures may look flat and lifeless, blurred or overly grainy, important features can easily be missed from the frame. You may know the animal so well that it is difficult to convey to others why the picture is important.


​We all have stacks of unused and unloved pictures of important moments that are simply not of much interest because the photographs themselves are not of a high enough quality. This guide hopes to explain why this might happen and what you can do to make your pictures much better representations of what you feel when you see your animals at their best – or worst!

What kind of photography?


This guide is intended to offer insight into taking semi-professional and professional animal photographs. The equipment and methods I describe and recommend will, in places, be of a more advanced nature than an absolute beginner will be comfortable with - but not by much! I will cover a lot of the essential basics you should know along the way.


Your knowledge of your camera should be fairly good - read the manual and take a lot of photographs!


Get comfortable with the dependencies of ISO, Shutter speed and Aperture; I will explain how I use them in the context of animal photography but the more experience you have with these settings the better your photographs will be.

The leap into professional photography will enable you to capture incredible moments of your pets for profit. Sell your talents to others who may not have the time or inclination to step into the world of photography but whose family members (because that is what our pets are!) are worth it! We all want to have their pictures displayed in the family home along with everyone else!


Find commissions as a commercial photographer for businesses in the animal community. Dog walkers, vets, groomers, pet shops, charities and many more all need great images of pets to help them to show their commitment to the business of living in a society where our animals are valued as family members.

So let's get going!


You can click on any of the photographs throughout this guide if you would like a closer look.

Next: Equipment


An Introduction


Ian McGlasham

Setting Up

Some things to think about before you take a photograph


Choosing equipment to photograph animals

Taking a shot

How to get a variety of shots of your animals

Camera Settings

Some Basic Essentials.

Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO

Post Production

A Brief guide to using Adobe Lightroom to process your shots